Why do we do this?

Enough, for the moment, about how to make a living as a writer. Let’s go back to an even more fundamental question: why do we do this? Why do we put ourselves through the copious pain and disappointment of writing? All writers have their own reasons. Mine are, in no particular order: the fun of doing the research and reporting, the sensual pleasure of finding the clippety-clop of well-crafted sentences and paragraphs, being my own boss, the satisfaction of seeing my words in print, reactions from readers. 

    But there’s something else.  A democracy depends on the public being well informed. How, otherwise, can they make choices? People cannot fully inform themselves, any more than they can (usually) fix their own cars, rewire their own houses, remove their own appendices. They hire mechanics, electricians, and surgeons to do those things, and they hire us to tell them what’s going on in their world. Without getting too misty-eyed about this, ours is a sacred calling; we’re truly irreplaceable. 

    It’s important to do this job well because if you don’t, you’ll fail, and you’ll be denied the pleasures of reporting and writing for a living. But it’s also important to do this job well because our democracy depends on it. Think of what kind of dumbass we might elect president if we weren’t such an exquisitely well-informed public.

3 thoughts on “Why do we do this?

  1. One of the silver linings of this, the New Age of Authoritarianism, is that the newspaper, long considered to be near extinction, is having a resurgence as the Voice of [and not the Enemy of] The People, and many of us, myself included, have subscribed to a number of publications whose existence we value, even if we rarely if ever, read them. Still, they do reach more people via their distillation on cable news or phone apps, with the newsiest parts conveniently clipped for those of us who want to follow the box scores without having to sit still for all nine innings.


  2. As Dan says – the pleasure of writing, the import of informing the public. I inform an audience of about 300 people about Democratic candidates and why they are worth supporting. I do get reader reaction. For instance, I got praise today from Dan’s dad.


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